Sue Ann Stearns: Always Present with a Smile
August 24, 2016
The Jennie Award is named after Jane Cunningham Croly, the founder of GFWC who worked as a journalist using the pen name “Jennie June.” The women honored with this award are a true reflection of the spirit of GFWC’s founder, whose independence and courage led her to form the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1890. As the only award at the Federation level that recognizes individuals for their service, it is truly the highest honor a clubwoman can receive. Much like Jennie June, these women are committed to improving the lives of those around them. They live and breathe volunteer service, and are completely devoted to their clubs, communities, and families.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog post featuring New England Region Jennie Award Winner Katherine White!
Sue Ann Stearns, a member of the Carrizozo Woman’s Club in Nogal, New Mexico, is this year’s South Central Region Recipient of the Jennie Award. GFWC was honored to present Sue with this award in front of her friends, family, and fellow clubwomen at the Wonderful, Wacky Women Luncheon during the 2016 GFWC Annual Convention.
In 1970, Sue’s father-in-law Johnson Stearns told her to “Join the Woman’s Club! Those are great ladies, and they get things done!” Sue decided to see for herself, and found this advice to be true, as she remains an active member over 45 years later. From participating in every club activity, project, and fundraiser, to being known as a friend to all clubwomen, Sue is always willing to do what is needed to improve her community.
As president of the club, Sue was a leader in the planning and building of the Casa Manana Apartment Complex, which provides housing for low-income senior citizens. Sue served as manager of the complex for 25 years and is still a member of the Board of Directors. This project received fourth place in the 1979 GFWC Community Improvement Program Contest.
As club historian, Sue was successful in securing the placement of the Carrizozo Woman’s Club Building on the National and New Mexico State Historical Registries, and continues to work to maintain the building. Sue is passionate about her club’s history and wrote a thorough account about this history with a report titled, “A Celebration—90 Years of the Carrizozo Woman’s Club, A Brief History of Our Club, GFWC, and GFWC New Mexico.”
“With all her involvement in other endeavors, and working full time for many years until retirement just a few years ago, I don’t see how she found the time and energy to make her many contributions to the Carrizozo Woman’s Club’s meetings and activities,” said Suzi Wolfe, 2014-2016 President of the Carrizozo Woman’s Club. “But she was always present with a smile and assistance when needed.”
In addition to her volunteer work with GFWC, Sue actively served her community as an employee for the Carrizozo-Capital Soil and Water Division of the United States Department of Agriculture. She has served on the board of directors for the Lincoln County Medical Center, New Horizons Center for the Developmentally Disabled, and the Zia Senior Citizens Center. She played a key role in the establishment of the Carrizozo Visitors Center, having single-handedly located the old caboose that currently houses the center.
“Sue is an active, well-known, well-respected and much-loved member of the community,” said Peggy Pinson, a member of the Carrizozo Woman’s Club.
Congratulations Sue, and thank you for your service!
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The Rochester Junior Women’s Club (Michigan) was established in 1956 with 16 members, and today has over 70 members that always come together to support one another. The club chooses three or four major charities to support and several smaller ones, donating approximately $30,000 each year. In total since its inception, the club has provided more than 1 million hours of community service, and raised more than $928,000 to support their community!